Green Bay, Fox Cities seek extension of Amtrak line

Amtrak might come to Green Bay
Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 12:35 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Could passenger trains return to Green Bay?

Appleton Mayor Jake Woodford’s office says city leaders from Green Bay, Kaukauna, Appleton, Menasha, Neenah, Oshkosh and Fond du Lac submitted a “joint letter of interest” to show their interest in add Amtrak train service in their cities through the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

““Everybody benefits. This is a once in a lifetime… once in a generation… opportunity,” Municipal and Legislative Liaison with Northeast Wisconsin Rails (NEWRails) Larry Rueff said.

That law created an initiative for Amtrak to identify and develop new corridors, and Amtrak has proposed three daily round-trips from Chicago to Green Bay with its Hiawatha line, which currently connects Chicago and Milwaukee.

Green Bay, Appleton, Oshkosh and Fond du Lac would have new stations along this proposed route. Currently, Kaukauna, Menasha, Neenah and Oshkosh are served by Amtrak’s bus service, Thruway I-41.

It’s estimated a trip from Green Bay to Milwaukee by train would take just under 3 hours, and it would reach Chicago in 4 hours, 20 minutes.

Appleton Mayor Jake Woodford wrote in a statement, “Extension of Amtrak service through the Fox Cities might provide another great transportation option for our residents.... Having access to rail transportation could also help our region compete for talent in an incredibly tight labor market.”

“Amtrak estimates that if this train service was re-established from Milwaukee to Green Bay that we would see $70 million annually in increased revenue for businesses,” Rueff explained. “We do want this made with the idea that we would connect people. That the systems would work together to get Wisconsin in a better form of transportation.”

“Our region stands to benefit from this Amtrak connection,” Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich wrote. “Strengthening our ties among the communities of the New North should be a priority for us, and transportation is a key component of this effort.”

The Federal Railroad Administration says it will judge new routes on 14 criteria, including regional and state planning; costs; ridership; trip times; the anticipated public benefit, particularly rural areas and underserved, low-income communities; and support from host railroads, operators, and communities.

NEWRails estimates we could learn which corridors are selected in May... but that’s at the earliest.